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By Miriam Raftery

April 29, 2020 (Sacramento) – In a briefing yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom suggested California schools could reopen in July or August, provided keys steps are met. 

“We recognize there’s been a learning loss because of this disruption,” Newsom said of school closures since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those closures have impacted 6.1 million students statewide.  “We’re concerned about the learning loss even into the summer,” the Governor added.

Newsom outlined four phases to reopen the state, which is currently in phase one. Phase two would allow some low-risk businesses to reopen, ease restrictions on some public spaces, and potentially include plans to reopen some K-12 schools for either summer school programs or an earlier start to the 2020-2021 school year.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said reopening schools “could help us address equity issues facing our most vulnerable students” as well as begin recovering learning losses, as well as helping parents who must return to work.

But he said major questions must be answered for early reopening to work.  “Can this be done in a way that protects the health and safety of our students, teachers and school staff?” he asked.

Thurmond also wants fiscal implications considered of mandates that could necessitate more funds for school districts  “Social distancing in schools may require smaller class sizes, but schools are going to need additional resources to make it happen—including the possibility of hiring more teachers,” he said. Teachers and staff would also need personal protection equipment and cleaning supplies to sanitize schools, he added.

The State Superintendent said his office will work with the Governor’s office, State Board of Education, Legislature, Dept. of Finance, public health leaders, employee union leaders, superintendents and other educational leaders statewide. “Together, we will create a path forward that works for all students,” he said.

The Los Angeles Times reports that extending the school year could trigger renegotiating union contracts and could pose problems for districts that rely on summer school, particularly to help remedial students. 

View the Governor’s full “roadmap” to reopening California slideshow presentation:

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